Octopuses might be able to dream and alter color when sleeping

Octopuses may be able to dream and change colour when sleeping

Octopuses could dream

Sylvia S L Madeiros

Octopuses change color once they sleep, and it is likely to be as a result of they’re dreaming.

Sidarta Ribeiro on the Federal College of Rio Grande do Norte in Natal, Brazil, and his colleagues have discovered that octopuses undergo two distinct levels of sleep – lively and passive. The researchers recorded 4 frequent octopuses (Octopus vulgaris) within the laboratory over a number of day and night time intervals, amassing greater than 180 hours of footage.


In the course of the day, the animals slept for greater than half the time, says Ribeiro. “In quiet sleep they keep in the identical place for lengthy intervals of time – very quiet, very pale the pupils closed – and breathe often in a really quiet matter,” he says.

This passive sleep was punctuated each 30 to 40 minutes by a short interval of lively sleep, lasting 1 to 2 minutes. On this part, the octopuses confirmed modifications in physique color and texture, together with the protrusion of superb bumps on their pores and skin often known as papillae. The animals’ eyes and arms additionally moved, their suckers contracting. “It’s clearly a really lively state,” says Ribeiro.

The workforce examined whether or not the octopuses had been really asleep on this state by presenting them with a video of some crabs. “After we stimulated the animal with visible or vibratory stimuli, they didn’t react,” says Ribeiro – in marked distinction with their responses when awake.

The same sample of sleep happens in birds and reptiles, and the researchers recommend that the lively sleep state in octopuses is likely to be analogous to REM sleep in mammals – the part during which we dream probably the most.

“If the octopus is having one thing like a dream, it’s most likely a really quick behavioural sequence, it’s not a story,” says Ribeiro. “Whether or not they’re having some kind of interior life with a story about themselves… we don’t know.”

“It could be very fascinating to see what’s taking place of their brains whereas they go from awake to quiet after which lively sleep,” he says.

Journal reference: iScience, DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2021.102223

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